A new patent application from Apple reveals a new invention that would allow future devices — including iPhones, iPads, and Mac computers — to also act as smoke detectors, which would be able to call 911 for emergency assistance in the event of a fire.
Though fires and fire-related deaths are on the decline, in 2011, the US Fire Administration reported more than 1.3 million fires that resulted in 3,005 deaths, 17,500 injuries, and $US11.7 billions in dollar loss. Apple would like to reduce these numbers even further.
Apple argues that smoke detectors are “mounted at fixed locations” and building occupants may be out of range from the coverage of the smoke detector, and may be unable to hear alarms. The company also points out that smoke detector alarms don’t include any “information of interest to first responders,” like how many occupants there are in the building.
According to Apple’s patent, which was published by the USPTO on Thursday and analysed by Patently Apple, Apple’s iOS and Mac products would be able to collect information about the homes and how many inhabitants there are, based on the “motion sensors embedded in Apple’s mobile and stationary devices.”
Some notable points in the patent:
- The software would work in conjunction with HomeKit, Apple’s new system for connecting Apple devices to all the various electronics in one’s home.
- When the iPhone, iPad or Mac computer detects smoke, it may “issue an alert or take other suitable action,” which includes the ability to text or email first responders, activate fire suppression equipment, create audible alerts, or transmit alerts to other electronic devices nearby and electronic devices at emergency services facilities.
- Interesting to note, Apple’s alerts say they could contain maps or other “graphical representations of buildings.” Apple reportedly dropped $US200 million last March on a company called WiFiSLAM, which is an “indoor GPS” mapping company.